The cure for cabin fever

When it's cold outside, activities heat up at condos and apartments


Whether you’re cocooning or stuck inside, apartment amenities help residents while away winter days.

A typical weekend night for Marlin Rinehart and his fiancee, Andrea Travis, consists of a few games of bowling followed by a friendly game of darts or table tennis. Once a month, the couple gathers with fellow film lovers for a movie club and discussion group.

When yawns overtake the couple and the hour is late, they ride the elevator upstairs to bed: no cars, cabs, “L” rides or coats required. Rinehart and Travis bought a loft condominium in Chicago’s 565 Quincy building last summer, which includes free access to the Q Room, an 11,000-square-foot space in the lower level with foosball, table tennis and billiards tables, a putting green, two bowling lanes and a theater room.

“We no longer have to venture out to the bars to get our darts-and-bowling fix,” Rinehart said.

The Chicago couple isn’t alone in their desire to play where they stay. When the city is in the firm grip of winter’s cold, snow and ice, venturing outside can be unappealing, and when storms hit, even impractical and unsafe. Many Chicago-area residents battle the winter blahs with condo and apartment amenities that make being stranded at home more fun.

Need to fit in a quick workout? Head to the pool to do laps or grab a mat for yoga on the eighth floor. Can’t make it to the office because of slippery roads? Perhaps a teleconference in the business center would work just as well. Chicago-area residents can do all of this and more in their buildings, while thumbing their noses at Old Man Winter.

“Lots of things cause us to get a little stircrazy in the winter in the Midwest,” said Diana Pittro, EVP of RMK Management, which manages the Regency Place apartment complex in Oakbrook Terrace.

Saturday morning cartoons in the media room or date-night movies for couples are always popular with residents, but the monotony of winter leads to residents searching for something more, she said.

“Anyone can spend money and go to a restaurant or a movie,” Pittro said. “We find that people are looking for things that are different.”

To that end, RMK-managed properties sponsor a variety of on-site programs for residents and the community at large. Some examples: an animal adoption weekend featuring pets from local shelters, or a charity event where residents gather to assemble care packages for U.S. troops.

At Lake Point Tower, a 70-floor, 758-unit condominium building in Streeterville, residents can swim laps, soak in a hot tub, play a game of racquetball or have their teeth cleaned without having to put on a coat to go outside, said Joshua Feldman, assistant manager of accounting and information technology for the property.

Not in the mood to cook? Lake Point Tower is home to three restaurants, Feldman said, ranging from a white tablecloth eatery with sweeping city views called Cite to a restaurant/bar open late for night owls to a casual cafe. When snow grips the city, as it did during the blizzard of 2011, residents can restock bare pantries with everything from soup to frozen food at an on-site market.

“We really have three layers of dining options,” Feldman said. “Residents don’t have to leave the building to get something to eat.”

Winter in the Midwest can be a drag, said Randy Fifield, vice chairman of the Fifield Cos., developer of Alta at K Station, an 848-unit apartment complex in Chicago.

“Those months can get long,” she said. “We’re always thinking of fun and creative things for our residents to do.”

The property’s two towers connect with a 48,000-square-foot amenity deck called K2 Club, home to an indoor sports court for basketball, volleyball and tennis, as well as two workout areas, a party suite, business center and 22-seat stadium-style theater.

Fifield, who describes the building’s vibe as “social and energetic,” said residents are eager to connect at a variety of on-site parties and events, including a Super Bowl chili cook-off, Valentine’s Day candygrams and March Madness shooting contests.

Residents of the 13-story Belmont by Reside in the Lakeview neighborhood also feel the urge to make connections with their neighbors, said Lori Postma, director of marketing for Reside Living, which manages the rental complex. Although the property’s fitness center, club room and business center are well used, so is its contemporary lobby, where neighbors gather to chat and relax. The space includes four flat-screen TVs, a lounge and coffee bar, and an art gallery to showcase local artists.

While on-site amenities such as indoor pools and basketball courts can be fun, they also aren’t cheap to install or maintain, and those costs typically are passed on to condo and apartment dwellers in the form of higher assessments or rental fees, said real estate agent Nicholas Apostal of Coldwell Banker-affiliate the Apostal Group in Chicago.

Author: Kari Richardson, special to the Tribune